Feb
27
2011
“Luke Donald Disease” Cured!
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour

Innoculation found: Donald wins Match Play Championship

The term “Luke Donald Disease” was coined in the Telegraph two years ago by an American writer to describe rich underachievers, or in the words of the author, “wealthy complacent fat cats.” It was never fair to single out Luke Donald to make the point (a number of names could have been inserted in the blank). Weird to pick Donald, who seems soft-spoken and mild-mannered, but obviously, he’s deadly in matchplay.

This week in Tucson, Donald didn’t just beat new world number-one Martin Kaymer in the finals 3&2 to capture the Match Play Championship –he put on a short game clinic, downright dominated the event, playing only 89 holes and never trailing in six matches, and perhaps found the remedy to the shaking the negative moniker (which he shouldn’t have gotten in the first place).

Even though Donald said he tries not to pay attention to the media, it’s still a terrible thing to have a “disease” named after you. I remember talking about this with a friend last year — how awful it would be and how it could really mess with your head. Luke could have developed a big chip on his shoulder, but apparently he shook it off. I mean, the guy deserves an award for contending almost every week, while being one of the shorter hitters on tour (last year he ranked 177th on the PGA Tour in driving distance, averaging 277 yards).

Asked if he takes any satisfaction in shutting up his critics, Donald smiled and said, “I try not to pay too much attention. But the media is hard to escape. And I think unfairly at times, I’ve kind of been depicted as someone that is very happy contending, picking up checks, but doesn’t really care about winning. And that is really — that’s as far away from the truth as it can be.

“I feel like my work ethic is as good as any player out here. I work very hard trying to think about ways to keep improving, keep getting better and winning is what it’s all about.”

Donald jumped from No. 9 in the world to No. 3 with the victory.

Next goal? More wins and a major wouldn’t hurt.

“I think I had a very consistent year last year, won once in Europe,” said Donald. “I had ten top-3s around the world. I was certainly knocking on the door, but I wasn’t winning.

“The most disappointing thing about last season was I didn’t really contend in a major, I didn’t really have a chance. And hopefully this added confidence will just give me a little bit extra to compete in majors and have more chances and hopefully pick up a major.”

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)